Pepe's View:

Director Jim Loach has assembled an all star cast in this "expose" of a shameful period of both English and Australian recent history.  He has taken as his topic the forced deportation of children to Australia from England - children who were either born out of wedlock or whose mother could no longer care for them due to circumstances beyond her control and as a result of the "rules" of polite society of the day.  Much of the film centres on the subsequent abuse some of these children received at the hands of the Catholic clergy.

Unfortunately, I felt that Loach has taken a tabloid newspaper approach to the subject and showed us the evil doings of both the authorities in England who took children unfairly from their mothers and the church in Australia who mistreated/abused these children.  There were thousands of children who were deported under this scheme and we saw in the film only a handful of "extreme" cases.  There was no attempt to reveal exactly how many children were in fact abused, how many were in fact taken from their mothers unfairly and the fact that in some cases at least the children did lead a happy life in Australia with a family in which they were loved.  I am not for one minute excusing or condoning the mistreatment but my complaint is that the audience who walk out of this film do so with a view that "all" children were mistreated.

The movie plods along in predictable fashion - corny shots of Ship paintings on the walls as background to "meaningful" scenes - and I asked myself the question how Margaret (Emily Watson) justified her neglect of her family to become the hero of the children who wanted to find their mother in England and find some answers as to why they were sent away.

David Wenham as one of the children who "made it good" in the new country despite being abused,  was as usual David Wenham.  Somehow he finds it difficult to be anything other than the male lead - almost every word he utters can be interpreted as an attempt to seduce the girl!  Hugo Weaving gives a superb performance as another traumatised child/adult and as usual very nearly steals the show.
This movie is very unsatisfying both on the level of entertainment and as a real investigation into the events.

My Score:  5/10

Ma's View:

Well, I can't be quite that harsh on this movie.  It does what it sets out to do very well - make a movie that will have wide audience appeal about a government policy in Australian/English history that was poorly administered and took no account of the individuals involved or their long-term welfare.  Margaret Humphries and her husband certainly put in a number of years of hard work to right the wrongs of these people at considerable personal cost to themselves and their children, I am sure.

Emily Watson always give a strong and authentic performance and she plays Margaret very well indeed as does Hugo Weaving the waif-like Jack.  Unfortunately, you can never forget that David Wenham is acting the character instead of "being" the character.

A bit unsubtle and heavy handed in the cinematography, the movie tends to hit you around the head with its message - which tries to imply that most of the children suffered extreme abuse of one sort or another and the biggest culprit was the Catholic church.  Some statistics might have been helpful at the end but why allow truth to get in the way of a good story?

My score:  7/10

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